I was on The Apprentice and this is what it’s REALLY like: Reece Donnelly shares behind-the-scenes secrets from the show – including strict wardrobe rules, a swimming pool ban and the one food they were constantly fed

A former The Apprentice contestant has shared some behind-the-scenes secrets exclusively with MailOnline – ahead of the new series airing.

Scottish entrepreneur Reece Donnelly, 27, took on the iconic BBC show in 2023, but was forced to withdraw in the sixth episode due to health issues.

The Waterloo Road actor ‘really enjoyed his experience’ on the show, but warned it’s no walk in the park.

Viewers are led to believe stars are ‘living it up’ in a £17million, eight-bedroom mansion on London’s Bishops Avenue, where they have use of nine bathrooms, a swimming pool, gym, and cinema.

But all is not as it seems, with Reece telling MailOnline: ‘The house is great, it was quite an experience, but you aren’t allowed in the swimming pool because we don’t have lifeguards.’

Scottish entrepreneur Reece Donnelly, 27, has shared some behind-the-scenes secrets exclusively with MailOnline - ahead of the new series airing

Scottish entrepreneur Reece Donnelly, 27, has shared some behind-the-scenes secrets exclusively with MailOnline – ahead of the new series airing

The Waterloo Road actor took on the iconic BBC show in 2023, but was forced to withdraw in the sixth episode due to health issues

The Waterloo Road actor took on the iconic BBC show in 2023, but was forced to withdraw in the sixth episode due to health issues

Reece said upon entering the house, candidates’ phones were taken away. He explained: ‘It’s three and a half months with no contact from the outside world. You’re not allowed to know the time.

‘There’s a rule of no task talking. You’re not allowed to talk about the task and you’re constantly with production. So, you always have a producer with you and they’re always logging everything, including meals.’

‘You’re fed under their kind of merit, and you’re looked after in that sense, but there’s only so many Prets you can eat in three months.’

Reece explained life as a candidate is no breeze even outside of the boardroom – as their days have ‘no set structure’.

He said: ‘It’s weird because we turned into children on our four days off. Me and Danny were hosting Sports Days and putting on shows in the evening.’

Speaking about before filming started, Reece detailed the strict wardrobe rules candidates were forced to follow.

He said: ‘We’re all briefed and guided on what to do. Before you go on you get a briefing note, and it says you need to bring your boardroom outfits and they give you a color scheme.

Reece 'really enjoyed his experience' on the show, but warned it's no walk in the park - with rules like no phones or contact from the outside world

Reece ‘really enjoyed his experience’ on the show, but warned it’s no walk in the park – with rules like no phones or contact from the outside world

Viewers are led to believe stars are 'living it up' in a £17million, eight-bedroom mansion where they have use of nine bathrooms, a swimming pool, gym, and cinema

Viewers are led to believe stars are ‘living it up’ in a £17million, eight-bedroom mansion where they have use of nine bathrooms, a swimming pool, gym, and cinema

But all is not as it seems, with Reece telling MailOnline: 'The house is great, it was quite an experience, but you aren't allowed in the swimming pool because we don't have lifeguards.'

But all is not as it seems, with Reece telling MailOnline: ‘The house is great, it was quite an experience, but you aren’t allowed in the swimming pool because we don’t have lifeguards.’

‘I was basically told I had to wear my glasses. I’ve now had laser eye surgery because I think that photo will haunt me until the day I die.’

The new series of The Apprentice kicks off on February 1, with 18 eager candidates competing for Lord Alan Sugar’s investment – alongside his advisors Baroness Karren Brady and Tim Campbell MBE.

It kicks off in style as candidates head straight to the Scottish Highlands, tasked with a corporate hospitality challenge where the men’s and women’s teams compete to put on luxury away days for corporate clients in the hope of impressing Lord Sugar.

On working with the business tycoon, 76, Reece said: ‘There were a lot of people in my series that really idolized Lord Sugar, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t really know that much about him. But I take my hat off to him, he really shows up.’

Going on to discuss the very glamorous Karen, he added: ‘Karen for me is an absolute grafter and a force to be reckoned with. I loved working with her, she saved my life on several occasions to tell you the truth. So I think in that retrospect, she looks after the candidate, she’s got your back.’

Reece, who is the founder of Theater School of Scotland and Theater College of Scotland, was determined to become the first Scottish candidate to secure Lord Sugar’s investment.

But unfortunately it was not meant to be as he was forced to quit the show due to health issues, while the remaining candidates jetted off to Dubai to put on a corporate away day for two international clients based there.

Reece was unable to travel abroad due to health reasons, but rumors spread that he was booted off the show after drinking too much alcohol.

Announcing his departure at the time, he said: ‘I could not continue in The Apprentice due to being unable to complete the task in Dubai for health reasons.

‘My goal of being on The Apprentice was to showcase that Scotland has amazing businesses and entrepreneurs. I really hope I’ve done that.’

Speaking about before filming started, Reece detailed the strict wardrobe rules candidates were forced to follow

Speaking about before filming started, Reece detailed the strict wardrobe rules candidates were forced to follow

The new series of the Apprentice kicks off on February 1, with 18 eager candidates competing for Lord Alan Sugar's investments - alongside his advisors Baroness Karren Brady and Tim Campbell MBE

The new series of the Apprentice kicks off on February 1, with 18 eager candidates competing for Lord Alan Sugar’s investments – alongside his advisors Baroness Karren Brady and Tim Campbell MBE

Speaking one year on from his dramatic exit, Reece told MailOnline: ‘I was distraught, like I’m not going to lie. I had no intention of going there and not winning.

‘When I took unwell, I was just like, s**t. But now that I reflect, I kind of think the universe was looking out for me, because I don’t need to split my wages and I’m very grateful for that.’

He added: ‘It was actually myself who asked for the medic to come in. I was looked after in a way that I thought was good, to be honest. The minute I was like, “guys I don’t feel well” we had doctors in. And then I was on antibiotics and sickness tablets.

‘But it came down to the fact I had missed the task. So they were like, “how is it fair for you to continue on in the process when you’ve not contributed to tasks?”

Reece, who is now ‘living the dream’ after a recent turnover of £1 million, concluded by saying: ‘It’s a hard, hard process and nobody talks about that, you have to be strong and resilient. I still laugh about it, what a ride we had.’